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By Matt Volz 

Montana bill would 'embrace' global warming

 


Montana bill would 'embrace' global warming

MATT VOLZ, Associated Press

HELENA — A Montana legislator is proposing the state embrace global warming and wrest control of greenhouse gas regulation from the federal government, ideas that scientists and environmentalists call an indefensible denial of physics and a waste of taxpayer money.

Republican Rep. Joe Read of Ronan aims to pass a law that says global warming is a natural occurrence that "is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana."

Montana holds large tracts of coal reserves and fossil-fuel extraction is an important part of the state's economy. Ronan's House Bill 549 asserts the state must adopt a policy on global warming that ensures appropriate management of those natural resources and Montana's economic development.

Porposed policy said global warming is not man-made

His proposed policy would put into law that global warming is natural and not caused by humans, and that "reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment."

It's one of several bills dealing with far-right social issues that have been forwarded this session in which Republicans control the state Legislature for the first time in years. Others include a so-called "birther" bill that would require presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate to verify their citizenship, plus a plan to require federal officers to get a sheriff's permission before making an arrest in that sheriff's county.

Repeal law of gravity while you're at it

University of Montana climate change professor Steve Running said it is indefensible to introduce legislation that attempts to negate a body of work built over decades by scientists around the world.

"To me, if the Montana Legislature does something as ridiculous as passing a bill that basically repeals the physics of global warming, I recommend they next pass a bill repealing the law of gravity," Running said. "It's about the same level of ridiculousness. We really will be the laughing stock of the country."

Running's lab writes software for NASA satellites to study the global patterns of plant growth. His research aims to understand the impact of drought on plant development and climate change on the length of the growing season.

Regents will fight any censorship

He said he doesn't believe the bill would have any effect on his research because his program receives no state funding and the Board of Regents would fight any attempt to legislate what is taught at the university.

Read did not return calls for comment on Friday. He was expected to present the bill later Friday in the House Natural Resources Committee.

Another bill by Read being heard on Friday would forbid any federal law or policy dealing with greenhouse gases from being enacted in Montana and prohibit any state officer from enforcing such a policy.

Read argues in House Bill 550 that because the U.S. Constitution does not specifically authorize the federal government to regulate greenhouse gases, Montana should have that right as part of its power to regulate intrastate commerce.

Supreme Court says EPA has authority

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and said the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate those emissions.

Kyla Wiens, an energy advocate for the Montana Environmental Information Center, said the court's ruling makes the EPA's jurisdiction over the matter clear. She called both bills a waste of time.

"Having that kind of statement sends a message that we're sticking our heads in the sand," Wiens said. "It sends a message that we're ignoring science in Montana and we're ignoring the law in Montana."

HELENA — A Montana legislator is proposing the state embrace global warming and wrest control of greenhouse gas regulation from the federal government, ideas that scientists and environmentalists call an indefensible denial of physics and a waste of taxpayer money.

Republican Rep. Joe Read of Ronan aims to pass a law that says global warming is a natural occurrence that "is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana."

Montana holds large tracts of coal reserves and fossil-fuel extraction is an important part of the state's economy. Ronan's House Bill 549 asserts the state must adopt a policy on global warming that ensures appropriate management of those natural resources and Montana's economic development.

Porposed policy said global warming is not man-made

His proposed policy would put into law that global warming is natural and not caused by humans, and that "reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment."

It's one of several bills dealing with far-right social issues that have been forwarded this session in which Republicans control the state Legislature for the first time in years. Others include a so-called "birther" bill that would require presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate to verify their citizenship, plus a plan to require federal officers to get a sheriff's permission before making an arrest in that sheriff's county.

Repeal law of gravity while you're at it

University of Montana climate change professor Steve Running said it is indefensible to introduce legislation that attempts to negate a body of work built over decades by scientists around the world.

"To me, if the Montana Legislature does something as ridiculous as passing a bill that basically repeals the physics of global warming, I recommend they next pass a bill repealing the law of gravity," Running said. "It's about the same level of ridiculousness. We really will be the laughing stock of the country."

Running's lab writes software for NASA satellites to study the global patterns of plant growth. His research aims to understand the impact of drought on plant development and climate change on the length of the growing season.

Regents will fight any censorship

He said he doesn't believe the bill would have any effect on his research because his program receives no state funding and the Board of Regents would fight any attempt to legislate what is taught at the university.

Read did not return calls for comment on Friday. He was expected to present the bill later Friday in the House Natural Resources Committee.

Another bill by Read being heard on Friday would forbid any federal law or policy dealing with greenhouse gases from being enacted in Montana and prohibit any state officer from enforcing such a policy.

Read argues in House Bill 550 that because the U.S. Constitution does not specifically authorize the federal government to regulate greenhouse gases, Montana should have that right as part of its power to regulate intrastate commerce.

Supreme Court says EPA has authority

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and said the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate those emissions.

Kyla Wiens, an energy advocate for the Montana Environmental Information Center, said the court's ruling makes the EPA's jurisdiction over the matter clear. She called both bills a waste of time.

"Having that kind of statement sends a message that we're sticking our heads in the sand," Wiens said. "It sends a message that we're ignoring science in Montana and we're ignoring the law in Montana."

 

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